Consumer sentiment dropped in March. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final index for March came in at a reading of 80. Although this is a slight increase from the preliminary March reading of 79.9, it is a decrease from February's figure of 81.6. This is the lowest reading the index has achieved since November 2013.
Consumer sentiment is a vital component in assessing the economy as spending among U.S. citizens makes up 70 percent of the economy. The pessimistic attitude over the past month may be due to expensive heating bills and constantly increasing gas prices, according to Bloomberg. Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC, said in an interview with Bloomberg the consumer sentiment reading did not met expectations.
"Right now there's a lot of uncertainty around the economy," Stanley said. "The data has been a bit disappointing, but at the same time you've had the whole weather distortion story and no one really knows whether things are doing better on an underlying basis or not."
According to a survey conducted by Reuters, respondents believed the median index reading for March was going to be 80.5.
Even though the sentiment index was down over the past month, several other sectors of the economy showed promise. Jobless claims fell by 10,000 during the week ending March 27 to stand at a total of 311,000, according to the Labor Department. This is the lowest the total amount of claims has been since November 2013.
The economy added 175,000 new jobs in February, an increase from January's figure of 129,000. According to Bloomberg, the median job growth is predicted to be 195,000 in March.
Businesses who are looking to add workers can enlist the services of manufacturers to help them find experienced workers for their businesses.